In just over a month, the Louisiana High School Athletic Association has gone from finishing its winter championships to spring championship mode.
The LHSAA’s bowling championships were held Friday, one day after the release of the softball playoff pairings in seven classifications.
A new era begins for boys golf this week with a series of district tournament qualifiers for players in four of the LHSAA’s five divisions. And of course, district track meets also are set this week.
There’s another important date looming in just more than a week.
On April 23, the LHSAA’s school relations committee is scheduled to hold its first meetings to discuss what could come next in the saga of the football-only bylaw that would divide schools into separate playoff divisions for select and nonselect schools.
The meetings set for the LHSAA office will be closed to the public and media. The committee is charged with examining Article 18, which member principals approved by a wide margin in January. Possible alternatives also are to be considered.
Once the school relations committee completes its meetings — and there will likely be more than just one or two — its recommendations will be sent to the LHSAA’s executive committee in early June with a special meeting for all principals to follow.
Since the January vote, there have been other meetings, lots of emotionally-charged rhetoric, threats of legal action and one specific piece of legislation aimed to stop the implementation of the new by-law this fall.
Nonselect schools, or traditional public schools, make up about 77 percent of the LHSAA’s 389-school membership. Select schools include private schools, charter schools, magnet schools, laboratory schools dual curriculum schools that draw 25 percent or more of their enrollment from outside their attendance zones.
Article 18 calls for schools to compete together in districts before splitting off into separate playoff divisions for select and nonselect schools.
The plan also calls for five divisions for nonselect schools and two for select schools.
Debate of over how many divisions there should be has been part of the discussion. The plan’s constitutional validity has also been questioned.
Select schools have called the plan discrimination.
Nonselect schools have countered with claims that select schools’ ability to draw students from outside their attendance zones (yes, private schools do have attendance zones) provides an unfair advantage and a playing field that is not level.
And to top it all off, there is House Bill 267 in the Legislature that would prohibit Louisiana public schools from belonging to an organization, i.e., the LHSAA, that discriminates against schools based on their enrollment policies.
Such legislation could effectively end, or at the very least cripple the LHSAA. Both sides appear set to lobby their viewpoint.
A website, www.schools4fairplay.com, is one recent attempt to lobby the public in favor of HB 267.
The school relations committee has been expanded to include individuals from both sides of the issue, including Winnfield Principal Jane Griffin, one of the driving forces behind the passage of Article 18.
Both sides must get past the emotion, animosity and personal agendas in order to give the committee the best chance at finding a compromise, if indeed one does exist.
I wish all the school relations committee members the best of luck. They’re going to need it.